Cyclecraft

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
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pjclinch
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Re: Cyclecraft

Postby pjclinch » 13 Jun 2019, 6:05pm

mjr wrote:
Maybe not "don't ever" but, thanks to my health over the years, as well as some of the cargo I've pulled, I don't always have such speed to use. This being emphasised so strongly so early in a cycling manual strongly suggests that the official view is that the likes of me should not be cycling on UK roads!


You have managed to miss the point that being able to go fast sometimes to make your life better is not the same thing at all as having to go fast to make your life tolerable all the time.

And so on.

And things like complaining that a section on hazards other than motor traffic that criticises many other cyclists doesn't mention the specific thing excepted in that section being as bad, it really comes across as one of those instances where it turns out that you can always find a fight if you go looking for one.

Cyclecraft is not perfect by any means, but as a source of useful advice on how to stay not-dead in UK traffic it's a useful resource. With a press date of 2014 it is entirely reasonable in deprecating the farcilities typical in the UK and downplaying the idea they're likely to be preferable to the roads. They are very often not, certainly if time is of the essence on a given ride.

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Re: Cyclecraft

Postby pjclinch » 13 Jun 2019, 6:11pm

mjr wrote:I agree that it shouldn't be considered that, but that is what it is sold as: "Cyclecraft is the definitive guide to skilled cycling technique" is on the cover of my copy. No limitation to carriageway or vehicular cycling. You and I may agree it's a good resource for that, but its claimed expertise is far broader.

It simply does not live up to that claim. A simple fix would be to dial down that claim and remove the dodgy stuff about purpose-built facilities (not only segregated ones). A more comprehensive improvement would be to add in a chapter or two about them written by an experienced pragmatist who can give useful tips on how to ride them.


Hang on... you actually took the marketing blurb describing something as definitive/complete etc. at face value?

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Re: Cyclecraft

Postby Vorpal » 14 Jun 2019, 12:38pm

thirdcrank wrote:In the interests of broadening my knowledge and as a reference source I'd be happy to consider shelling out for something not intended for so-called vehicular cyclists. Can anybody point me to something dealing with such cycling in the UK including complying with the current law, sufficiently received so as not to make me the target of criticism, and not mountain biking or BMXing. I'm talking about advice on how to carry out the activity, not campaigning. I can always google. Is there a search term? Non-vehicular cyclist sounds like an oxymoron.

:mrgreen:

I'm not aware of anything.

Though JF rightly points out the hazards associated with cycle paths and footway conversions, nothing is said about how to minimise them, other than riding on the road. My earlier point was that is the solution of someone who advocated for vehicular cycling.

What it is not, is a good solution for a 7 year old, unless the road in question is a very quiet one.

mjr has some valid criticisms of the book, one of which is that there is potentially considerable value in giving beginning cyclists more information about how to minimise risk whilst using cycle paths and shared use facilities. I have taught my kids how to do this, and I certainly would not tell a 7 year old they are safer on the road. In many cases, despite driveways and crossings, cautious use of segregated facilities is probably better than the road.

That said, I don't think that we should throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water. Cyclecraft is good resource, and I think that it is important to make cyclist aware of the many hazards designed into most shared use facilities in the UK, and the advantages of using the road, for cyclists who are confident and traffic-aware enough.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
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Re: Cyclecraft

Postby mjr » 14 Jun 2019, 1:30pm

Vorpal wrote:That said, I don't think that we should throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water. Cyclecraft is good resource, and I think that it is important to make cyclist aware of the many hazards designed into most shared use facilities in the UK, and the advantages of using the road, for cyclists who are confident and traffic-aware enough.

I agree Cyclecraft is a good resource about road cycling, but I disagree that using the road is a matter of confidence or traffic awareness, with the term "shared use facilities" or that we know the state of cycling infrastructure well enough to say whether most suffer the hazards mentioned at length in the book or not. Sustrans may have some idea from their recent audit of their network, but I didn't see a figure saying how much of the 40ish% they found "poor or very poor" was badly-designed cycling infrastructure and how much was badly-designed/regulated all-purpose roads.

I'm rather irritated at having a massive image laughing at me for simply suggesting that the book should stick to the truth, but I suspect it means that I touched a nerve pointing out that Cyclecraft is overhyped and doesn't do what is claimed.
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Re: Cyclecraft

Postby pjclinch » 14 Jun 2019, 4:18pm

mjr wrote:I'm rather irritated at having a massive image laughing at me for simply suggesting that the book should stick to the truth, but I suspect it means that I touched a nerve pointing out that Cyclecraft is overhyped and doesn't do what is claimed.


No, you're being laughed at for believing marketing of a book (any book, and not just books) is completely on the level. Looking up at my bookshelf here I have various "Complete References" that aren't (but they're on the bookshelf because they are good, useful books), and am reminded of the (1960s) Bonzo's Shirt song/skit that includes the lines, "Three weeks?! But the sign outside says 59 minute cleans!"; "that's just the name of the shop"...

I don't think you're wrong to suggest that's what it should be, but I think you're being quite naive if you think it's something you're genuinely likely to find. Marketing relies on pushing the boundaries what can be said to their limits. Or do you think that, for example, if you wear a Goretex coat that is "GUARANTEED TO KEEP YOU DRY™" and you ride in to a canal, you'll be dry?

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Re: Cyclecraft

Postby thirdcrank » 14 Jun 2019, 6:02pm

I've shelled out £11.99 to buy this from Amazon - £4 cheaper than the TSO.

Particular thanks to rfryer and pjlinch for answering my queries about this third(ish) edition. Thanks also pete for taking up the metaphorical cudgel's for the close quarters stuff.

I'll reflect on the points raised by everybody and see if I want to add anything. I may also review the book when I get it, but perhaps not.

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Re: Cyclecraft

Postby mjr » 14 Jun 2019, 7:51pm

pjclinch wrote:I don't think you're wrong to suggest that's what it should be, but I think you're being quite naive if you think it's something you're genuinely likely to find. Marketing relies on pushing the boundaries what can be said to their limits. Or do you think that, for example, if you wear a Goretex coat that is "GUARANTEED TO KEEP YOU DRY™" and you ride in to a canal, you'll be dry?

No, but I think it's fine to call the coat's maker a stupid liar for that claim!

I also think that claim would hoodwink a far lower % of its buyers than Cyclecraft's ones.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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Re: Cyclecraft

Postby pjclinch » 15 Jun 2019, 7:00am

mjr wrote:
pjclinch wrote:I don't think you're wrong to suggest that's what it should be, but I think you're being quite naive if you think it's something you're genuinely likely to find. Marketing relies on pushing the boundaries what can be said to their limits. Or do you think that, for example, if you wear a Goretex coat that is "GUARANTEED TO KEEP YOU DRY™" and you ride in to a canal, you'll be dry?

No, but I think it's fine to call the coat's maker a stupid liar for that claim!

I also think that claim would hoodwink a far lower % of its buyers than Cyclecraft's ones.


But it's not the maker making the claim, it's the fabric supplier and there is Small Print. You can take them to court making accusations of lying, but I'd bet money you'd lose (Gore's Goretex guarantee has said that for a very long time).
Any book on as wide a field as how to ride a bike claiming to tell you everything is pretty clearly not going to do that, but if you insist that all cover claims are totally truthful you're going to have to pretty much abandon books...

In other words, how marketing departments try and sell a thing is not the thing. This is a distraction from far more important points you were making.

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Re: Cyclecraft

Postby thirdcrank » 15 Jun 2019, 10:52am

Vorpal wrote:When discussing Cyclecraft (or indeed the american equivalent, written by another JF, John Forester), it is important to remember that it was written by a vehicular cyclist about how to operate a bicycle as a vehicle on the public roads. I think that to a certain extent, selling vehicular cycling as how to do cycling is to be expected. ... .


I hope this doesn't come across as an OBN application, but you appear better clued up than I am both on cycling provision and the wider issues of what is often termed "political correctness." I suspect that phase has taken on negative connotations of its own but I just mean modern use of language in argument. And again, argument in the sense of reasoned discussion rather effing and blinding.

To me then, "vehicular cyclist" is used by some people as a shorthand term of abuse. I'm not going to go ploughing back, but I'm pretty sure there's a much older thread where somebody posted along the lines that "vehicular cyclists are the problem." "The enemy within" seems to describe the attitude of some advocates of whatever we might call "non-vehicular cycling."

I don't like hyperbole in discussions about cycling - comparing cyclists to Rosa Parks as some do always seems OTT to me - but I'm reminded here of the burning of The Satanic Verses - one copy of which went up in flames outside my workplace.

However, a recurrent theme is the indifference - nay, downright hostility - of our legal system from PCSO's all the way down to the big wigs. That was behind a recent allusion - "you who philosophize" - to The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll. (Showing my age here :oops: )

My point here is that it's only a bit hyperbolic to say that Daniel Cadden was our own reluctant hero: a so-called vehicular cyclist using the public roads instead of the shoddy alternative labelled "People who don't pay car tax." (I know, I really do know.) Again, I don't think it's hyperbole to say he won a battle for us all - within that hostile system - and with dignity - no glamourisation of vandalism and thuggery. JF played a role in that, with reasoned argument before a reasonable judge. The trigger - sorry about the Wild West imagery - was my recommendation of the advice in Cyclecraft and my naive attempt to establish JF's credibility, in a thread about dealing with another alleged example of that institutional hostility from a police officer towards a cyclist changing lane.
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Re: Cyclecraft

Postby Mike Sales » 15 Jun 2019, 11:19am

I agree that the battle to preserve our freedom to choose to use the road is crucially important. If we have to use any facility, however inadequate, there is even less incentive to provide good cycle paths.

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Re: Cyclecraft

Postby Vorpal » 15 Jun 2019, 12:08pm

Yes, vehicular cyclist has become a dirty word. Those who advocated for pedal cyclists sharing the road, rather than segregated infrastructure, including CTC, are now blamed for the current state of affairs.

I have seen those who advocate for reduced speed limits and filtered permeabiliity derided and blocked on Twitter by folks who say that segregation is the only way, and even blame 'vehicular cyclists' for cyclists deaths.

But it is still an appropriate term for using a pedal cycle as a vehicle on the roads. It sounds better than the equally derided Americanism, 'bicycle driving'.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
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Re: Cyclecraft

Postby thirdcrank » 15 Jun 2019, 12:42pm

Check my embarrassingly high post count and you will find that I have often drawn attention to the legal status of a cyclist as a driver.

eg The much maligned Highways Act 1835 (as amended):-
72 Penalty on persons committing nuisances by riding on footpaths, &c.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . If any person shall wilfully ride upon any footpath or causeway by the side of any road made or set apart for the use or accommodation of foot passengers; or shall wilfully lead or drive any horse, ass, sheep, mule, swine, or cattle or carriage of any description, or any truck or sledge, upon any such footpath or causeway; or shall tether any horse, ass, mule, swine, or cattle, on any highway, so as to suffer or permit the tethered animal to be thereon; every person so offending in any of the cases aforesaid shall for each and every such offence forfeit and pay any sum not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale], over and above the damages occasioned thereby.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Wil ... section/72

With the subsequent invention of the pedal cycle, the courts and eventually legislation decided that the pedal cycle was a carriage, rather than a horseless horse, making a cyclist in that context a driver rather than a rider.

Some people condemn American usage out-of-hand but that's one I rather like, but I would say that, wouldn't I? Thanks for the info. :D

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Re: Cyclecraft

Postby pjclinch » 15 Jun 2019, 6:04pm

Re: "vehicular cyclist" being a negative term these days...

It depends.

If you are using the techniques taught by e.g. Bikeability Level 3, Cyclecraft etc. to get where you're going then that's vehicular cycling, you are being a vehicular cyclist, and that's generally a Good Thing.

If you are saying that that's what everyone should do all of the time and is clearly best for everyone, then that's a rather different thing but falls under the same heading. That is increasingly seen as Not a Good Thing.

Where the argument seems to have been changing over the last decade or so is a switch of emphasis from the people who already cycle, sharing the roads because what else can you do?, to a realisation that it's important for cycling to break out beyond its current ghettoised status in to a mass transport modality, as it has in NL. I'm a Bikeability instructor, I can not only do vehicular cycling but I can teach people how to do it too. But what I often can't do is persuade people that look at what's involved and think, "I'm not doing that!" that they should change their minds. As I've got older, a bit more reflective and a bit less selfish about it I've come to see that
  • Just because I can do it doesn't mean that anyone can do it
  • Having lots of people change cars for bikes is more important than me being able to go as fast as possible

It doesn't really matter how safe and/or fast/efficient VC is if people simply refuse to get involved with it. And they do refuse to get involved with it.

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Re: Cyclecraft

Postby mjr » 15 Jun 2019, 6:31pm

I now think one probably should distinguish between "vehicular cyclists" (fine, just a way of getting around) and "vehicularist cyclists" (bad, the sort of people who oppose all cycling-specific lanes and roads as a matter of principle).
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Re: Cyclecraft

Postby Mike Sales » 15 Jun 2019, 6:40pm

mjr wrote:I now think one probably should distinguish between "vehicular cyclists" (fine, just a way of getting around) and "vehicularist cyclists" (bad, the sort of people who oppose all cycling-specific lanes and roads as a matter of principle).


When I read Cyclecraft I was surprised to find that I had been a vehicular cyclist for many years.
When I was told that I should use the sorry apologies for British cycle facilities I became vehicularist.
Given adequate facilities I would be happy to use them.
It is not so much a matter of principle as of refusing to be shunted off into these pitiful paths for the convenience of drivers.